Response for project 200600200: Implementation of the Caspian Tern Management EIS

Comment on proposed FY 2006 budget

BPA has developed an additional project (2006-002-00) to assist COE and USFWS with the implementation of the preferred alternative in the final Caspian tern EIS, which is included as part of the FCRPS UPA. $500,000 is our current estimate for the FY06 budget.

Accomplishments since the last review

The final EIS was released in January 2005. COE and USFWS will sign the Records of Decision in summer 2005, at which point BPA will adopt the EIS.

FY 2006 goals and anticipated accomplishments

In FY06 we will begin the implementation of the preferred alternative. BPA, COE, and USFWS are currently developing an implementation plan that will determine the division of responsibilities and the implementation timeline. This implementation plan will be completed in the summer/fall of 2005.

Subbasin planning

How is this project consistent with subbasin plans?

Avian predation is one of the limiting factors identified in the subbasin plan for outmigrating junveile salmonids in the estuary and Lower Mainstem Columbia habitat (see the following excerpt): Piscivorous birds congregate near dams and in the estuary around man-made islands where they consume large numbers of outmigrating juvenile salmon and steelhead (Roby et al. 1998). Caspian terns, cormorants, and gull species are the major avian predators (NMFS 2000a). While some predation occurs at dam tailraces and juvenile bypass outfalls, by far the greatest numbers of juveniles are consumed as they migrate through the Columbia River estuary. Ruggerone (1986) estimated that gulls consumed 2% of the juvenile salmon and steelhead passing Wanapum Dam but comparable estimates have not been made for Bonneville Dam. Roby et al. (1998) estimated that avian predators consumed 10-30% of the total estuarine salmonid smolt population in 1997. (Additional discussion of bird predation in the estuary is included in section 45044960.1311136.0.)

How do goals match subbasin plan priorities?

The preferred alternative in the final EIS would reduce Caspian tern predation on juvenile salmonids by approximately 4 million smolts per year. This is consistent with the following strategy identified in the subbasin plan: I.M9. Continue to manage predation by avian predators, such as Caspian terns, to avoid large increases in salmon predation while also protecting the viability of predator populations. (Category A) Explanation: Transplanting of the tern colony from Rice Island to East Sand Island has successfully reduced predation on salmon. Ongoing measures will be necessary to ensure that the existing habitat remains suitable for terns and no new habitats are created in areas where increased predation might pose added risks. Additional alternatives for management of predation by avian predators will be included in an Environmental Impact Statement currently being prepared by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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